Monarch urges nation to be ready, avoid mass gatherings

Azlan Othman

His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam urged the nation to be ready in an integrated manner to shield all from the deadly COVID-19 virus, to avoid mass gatherings, be more responsible and intensify supplication to seek Allah the Almighty’s help.

His Majesty in a special titah aired over radio and television last night, also urged the public not to engage in panic buying and warned retailers not to increase prices according to their wishes, as legal action will be taken against them. “Currently, we are tested with COVID-19. But we are not alone. It affects globally. The pandemic has spread fast, affecting 180 countries with over 260,000 cases leading to over 11,000 deaths,” His Majesty said.

His Majesty said for three months since the outbreak, Brunei was free from COVID-19 while many countries were affected.

“Brunei was eventually affected and the source of the outbreak affecting Brunei was identified as the group of Bruneians who participated in the Tabligh gathering in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.”

“The first case was detected on March 3, 2020, a 53-year-old local. To date, the number has increased. With Allah the Almighty’s will, we hope to contain new infections. We should not be complacent in tackling this outbreak,” His Majesty said.

His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam delivers the titah. PHOTO: INFOFOTO

“From what has been happening around the world, many have predicted that this outbreak can lead to a long term threat. Hence, Brunei must be ready in an integrated manner to shield us from this outbreak. Physically we are encouraged to prioritise cleanliness, use face masks and hand sanitisers. But this is not enough. We must be committed with the psychological factor which is to be patient, calm and convinced with assistance from Allah the Almighty.”

His Majesty added that the current threat is not from storms, fire or major floods.

His Majesty added; “If such a threat is from these elements, we could mobilise security units to assist us. But COVID-19 is like the SARS outbreak and we cannot depend totally on these units to assist. What is really needed is treatment and prevention through various processes such as by not attending mass gatherings, using face masks, using hand sanitisers, restricting entry and exit and to intensify Doa or supplications.

“This is our joint responsibility and no one should run away from such a responsibility. An example of one running from it is like not adhering to regulations or failing to abide to orders. It is not appropriate for the people to go against the etiquette and religion like refusing to take a test or treatment with misleading excuses such as only wanting to rely on Allah the Almighty.

“To my understanding, the axis to relying on Allah the Almighty is endeavour or effort and not being reckless.”

His Majesty added the government through the Ministry of Health has taken steps to enhance human resource capacity, not only in terms of doctors and nurses but also clinical capability.

“To enhance the laboratory analysis capability, I have consented for the construction of an additional virology laboratory at the National Virology Reference Lab which is capable of increasing the analysis capability up to 10 times and able to release test results quickly,” the monarch said.

“The Hukum Syarak has outlined guidelines based on Al-Quran for us not to drag ourselves towards catastrophies while the Hadith of the Prophet (pbuh) has strongly prohibited us from entering any place where there is an infectious disease outbreak and not to leave the place after entering it. Hadith also reminded us to escape from such diseases.

“I am aware that all of us are experiencing shock but not to an extent of panicking as it could affect stability. However, there are some who are engaged in panic buying of basic necessities leading to a drastic drop in rice supplies at shops in the country.

“The Ministry of Finance and Economy has reaffirmed that rice and sugar stocks are adequate for daily needs and the timeline for the sale to companies at state stores has also been extended as these are open daily including Fridays, Sundays and public holidays,” His Majesty said.

The monarch also reminded retailers not to take advantage by increasing the prices of goods. “If it happens, my government will not hesitate to take legal action. As a nation with belief, besides continuing physical efforts, we are also urged to intensify our spiritual efforts by multiplying supplications or Doa and remembrance of Allah the Almighty (Zikir) and to do good deeds and prohibit wrongdoings. This is where our culture differs from others. We know that this outbreak does not exist on its own but from the Creator. No one knows why it comes”.

“But based on events recorded in Al-Quran, we understand that every unfortunate event or outbreak is a reminder or punishment or Intiqam from Allah the Almighty. The only hope left is to be humble, plead guilty and seek for forgiveness,” His Majesty said. “We pray to Allah the Almighty for safety from this terrible outbreak and to protect us.”

His Majesty called on the Ministry of Religious Affairs (MoRA)to guide the people to supplicate and intensify Zikir in remembering Allah the Almighty.

The monarch also urged the MoRA to provide Doa and Zikir texts which is easy but Warid that can easily be used by the public. “Insya Allah through such efforts, may Allah the Almighty accept our prayers.”

His Majesty expressed his thanks and appreciation to the health workforce and nurses, public servants especially the army and police working tirelessly disregarding the time. Similar appreciation was also extended to volunteers who contribute directly and indirectly in tackling COVID-19.